Divorce During COVID-19
Tensions and anxiety are at an all-time high, nowhere more than within the family. We continue to see couples making the difficult decision to get a divorce. Divorce mediation is a form of conflict resolution that reduces anxiety during the divorce process. Divorce mediation adds elements of control and predictability to the process of dissolving a marriage.
Even though there has been widespread stress and anxiety resulting from COVID-19, early research shows that divorce rates did not increase during the first months of the lockdown as many predicted. In reality, divorces dropped during the first ½ year of the pandemic, but so did new marriages, due to the closure of family and divorce courts. The data suggests that the pandemic may have forced spouses to stay together for practical reasons. Job loss, parenting kids through remote learning, and increased stress have impacted people’s ability to take on the significant process of dissolving a marriage.
I have seen more divorcing spouses during the COVID-19 pandemic thinking more passionately about the way they want to live and prioritizing leading a value-driven life. People are making resolutions not simply to resume old ways of living life but working on new ways to live their lives and resolve conflict. The pandemic created an existential maelstrom which, in most cases, exacerbated issues that couples might have previously ignored. As time has passed, people are adjusting to a new way of life, and are preparing to move forward. For many, that may result in seeking divorce.
More than ever, couples who have decided to divorce could benefit from divorce mediation to help negotiate the terms of their divorce. Divorce mediation keeps the family and the children’s best interests at the forefront. Divorce mediation also increases the likelihood of effective post-divorce coparenting and collaboration. Research shows that couples are more likely to adhere to the terms of their divorce agreement if they help create them.
For many of the divorcing couples that I have mediated with, I found that the many months of cohabiting during the pandemic actually benefited them. Even though they are headed down the path of divorce by using mediation, they have learned to communicate more effectively while having to live together, and often come to mediation more prepared, both emotionally and logistically, to move through the process. I am seeing couples, who aren’t being driven by raw emotion, navigating through the process more smoothly.
According to legaltemplates.net, prepackaged divorce agreements soared 34% during COVID-19. Milloe Moric, a staff writer for Legal Templates, finds that newlyweds and marriages in southern U.S. states were hardest hit with spikes in divorce rates. Many other researchers are now predicting divorces to rise in 2022 as well. More than ever, couples who have decided to divorce will benefit from divorce mediation to guide them through effective conflict resolution and communication with dignity and respect.
Manning, W. D., & Payne, K. K. (2021). Marriage and Divorce Decline During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study of Five States. Socius, 7, 23780231211006976.
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